Dick Blue passed away quietly on Aug. 2, 2020, under the care of hospice and his family. Dick was born Sept. 16, 1928, in Ford, Washington to his parents, Gage and Nell Blue. Raised in the early years of the Great Depression, sharing humble beginnings, like many of his generation, Dick often stated that he never saw himself as being poor, but rather lived with the constant appreciation of knowing he had all that he needed. He often spoke fondly of his early life experiences living in Long Lake, learning the art of handling mules and horses with a kind and soft approach from his grandfather. His father, Gage and grandfather, Joe, were cornerstones of the Long Lake community, owning the saw mill, and were a big part of building the Long Lake dam. Dick was always proud that his family had such a significant part in that piece of history. Like so many others who lived through the Depression, some of Dick’s happiest times were consequences of the tight-knit relationships between family and friends necessitated by mutual interdependence.
Of all the experiences Dick had, it was the Miller/Blue partnership, which came into being in 1972, that captured his heart. This partnership provided horses to youth camps throughout the Northwest, and is still continuing today. The program began initially with the Totem Girl Scout Council and expanded into Campfire, CYO and YMCA camps, as well as several church and private camps, eventually serving 15 camps over the course of 50 years. They were able to document 3 million hours of children riding their horses. Dick’s deep friendship with business partner Claude Miller was built upon respect and appreciation for each other’s skills and knowledge, as horsemen and business professionals.
While there were countless memories over the program’s 50-year span, one specifically stood out. This was the week-long pack trips in the high country for deaf and blind students from Seattle Community College in the 1990s. Dick often spoke with admiration for what these students were able to accomplish during their backcountry experience, and was proud of the memories they were able to help create for these young people.
This period of Dick’s life was marked with colorful memories of big adventure, wonderful horses and rewarding relationships with the camp agencies they served. The stacks of photo albums documenting the era tell a story unlike any other, and truly represent a unique experience not likely to be recreated in this changing world.
Dick was proud of the fact that the American Camping Association used the Miller/Blue program as the model for creating safety guidelines for horseback riding programs in youth camps nationwide. Awards from both the national Campfire organization and ACA attest to the significance of the Miller/Blue leadership in the youth camping industry.
During his professional life, Dick served on many nonprofit boards, primarily working on community fundraising projects. He was proud of the significant contributions these projects made to the betterment of the community. Highlights included Wenatchee Valley College Foundation and its successful building of the Omak college facility. He and his friend, Jake Lodato, were instrumental in publishing the 100 Year Celebration, culminating the years of fun he had working with the College Foundation.
A true believer in consumer education for young adults, he and friends, Bob Parlette and Scott Kane, were instrumental in forming YACET (Young Adult Consumer Education Trust), in 1999. The organization was funded by the Sears corporation. Dick’s success in publishing educational materials for this age group over the years was a great benefit to YACET’s development of programs teaching young people about personal financial management. He was proud that his son, Dave, is still actively involved in the program.
Dick is survived by his bride, Helen, of 71 years. He often referred to their partnership as being “two halves of a whole.”
Dick is also survived by daughters: Marny Bowers and Charlie of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Chris Blue of Winthrop; son, Dave and Lisa of Omak, and son-in-law Richard Gutzwiler; as well as three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Marilyn, brother Roger, and daughter Karen.
In lieu of flowers, Dick asked that memorial contributions be made to the Cashmere Museum Pioneer Village.
Due to current COVID challenges, there will be no memorial service or gathering. Cremation arrangements under the direction of Jones & Jones-Betts funeral home. Dick’s ashes will be taken to a favorite location via horseback, a final ride for a beloved cowboy, father, husband and friend.